Keyboard Geniuses

Starcraft II: Heart Of The Swarm

Behind The Grunts

Highlights from the week’s comment threads.

By Matt Kodner • March 15, 2013

Keyboard Geniuses is our weekly glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the Gameological discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity. You can follow the links to see the full threads.

Marines Forever!

Guess what came out this week? Games! Lots and lots of games! Drew Toal had the scoop in Out This Week. He voiced concerns over StarCraft’s Zerg menace in anticipation of StarCraft II’s newest expansion, Heart Of The Swarm. Stakkalee alleviated Drew’s concerns with an enlightening study:

Have no fear of Zergs, Drew! Science shows that humanity would have a slight advantage over the other 2 races, and if we pursue a preemptive strategy we’ll eventually triumph, and we’ll be the ones spreading like locusts across the galaxy! Ah, Science—telling humans how awesome we are for the past 3000 years!

World’s Best Dyad

Anthony John Agnello continued his audio artist interview series as he spoke to Dyad creators Shawn McGrath and Ed Kananga. McGrath was outspoken to the point of dogmatism on the importance of ubiquitous “interactivity” and the artistic bankruptcy of video games that aim to tell a sequential story. ToddG disagreed:

Let me preface this by saying that Dyad is a neat and innovative game, and these guys should absolutely be praised for creating it. But I don’t buy a lot of things in this interview. I mean, Dyad isn’t really a box of crayons; there is still a very linear set of objectives for the player to achieve, concrete goals, and structure for “playing.” And having a basic narrative framework with room for player interpretation is not the same thing as having no narrative structure at all. Which is fine—[narrative structure] is not necessary for a game to be good, or even great. But these guys seem to want to limit the definition and characteristics of what a great game is to the point where only Dyad can fit the bill, and that’s off-putting. I mean, “The realism of image and sound is not valuable?” Sure, sometimes it’s not. But sometimes it is.

In the interview, McGrath made an off-color remark about the original Mario Bros’ objective that predictably rubbed many readers the wrong way. It’s easy for an impolite gaffe from a game creator to make the game seem less appealing in turn. The Bryan JZX90 made a case for considering the artist separately from his or her art, referencing an incident where Fez creator Phil Fish answered a question about Japanese games by saying that they “suck” (Fish later apologized):

I almost didn’t buy Fez because of how much of a dick Phil Fish was to that one random Japanese guy, but I got over it. I think not buying Fez because of that would have been a mistake and would have denied me a good deal of enjoyment for no real reason. My problem was always more with his lack of consideration for the guy in front of him than the actual content of his message. I don’t really understand why it should matter if Phil Fish doesn’t like modern Japanese games when I do, as long as I also like the kind of game Phil Fish is making.

Similarly, if I like linear storytelling in video games, I don’t really care if these guys don’t, as long as I also like games that don’t bother trying to tell a story. I can understand trying to “punish” a developer for actions, maybe, but not opinions. Unless that opinion is something inherently wrong to even consider, like the Nazis were okay or something.

Jones Before Groans
God Of War: Ascension

Scott Jones reviewed God Of War: Ascension, a prequel to the storied God Of War series. Jones found much of it less appealing than previous entries, and Do You Realize agreed:

When I finished the third game, God Of War III, I remember hoping against hope they stopped making these games. What once was novel, as Scott points out, had become gratuitous. At one point in the first game, you’re forced to sacrifice a helpless prisoner by moving his cage in front of a spout of flame. I remember coming to the realization of what I had to do to keep moving forward, and marveling at what this small moment said about Kratos’s character, and during a bit of gameplay nonetheless, not some cinematic segue. In the third game, you’re forced to use Persephone’s body to stop a cranking wheel, which echoes that bit from the first game—though by this point it’s tired, and rather than wanting to see this tortured soul move forward, I found myself rooting for Persephone.

The prequel (and I’m going by the review—I haven’t played it) could have attempted to explore the tortured soul version of Kratos rather than the misogynistic murdering bastard version. But it sounds like this game does nothing of the sort, instead amplifying the behavior without the justification (however inadequate) he once had.

Grunt Of The Litter
Inventory: Oof!

Yesterday we assembled a shortlist of games’ most prolific grunters and groaners. George Liquor added to the list, making a case for the marine from DOOM:

For your consideration, I humbly submit the DOOM Guy. He lets loose with a half-growled panting sound each time he takes damage, ultimately culminating in several unique, blood-curdling death shrieks. He seems to inhabit a moon base filled with futuristic grunt-activated doors too, as that’s the noise he makes every time he tries to operate one. Locating secret doors in DOOM usually involves sliding along a level’s walls while rapidly pressing the “use” key and eliciting a rapid-fire “Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!” from our protagonist.

While Link has starred in a multitude of Legend Of Zelda games, Brad Westness thought Wind Waker featured the best guttural tones, and he provided a video to boot:

Link’s “climbing up from hanging on a ledge” grunt in Wind Waker is the finest moment in video game voice acting, which comes around the 10 second mark in this video.

Good show! And on the topic of grunts, Saint Stryfe was nice enough to include a helpful Orcish-to-English crib sheet for the orcs of Warcraft:

Quick Warcraft Orcish Primer:
“Lok’tar” – “Victory”
“Lok’tar Ogar” “Victory or Death”
“Dabu” – “I understand”
“Zug” – “Yes”
“Zug Zug” – “Yes,” but in a more frustrated, passive tone.

Ah, dabu, dabu. Elsewhere Caspian Comic wondered about the origin of in-game grunts and the choice of grunts over dialogue:

I know a lot of modern games attempt to give each character a fairly substantial library of guttural moans to keep repetition from setting in, but whenever I hear a particularly actorly grunt I always wonder about the chap in the recording booth making sounds like somebody’s been stepping on his foot all day. Work’s work, I guess.

Also, I find it especially strange when a game’s protagonist has no spoken dialogue but is an accomplished grunter all the same. The Kid from Bastion is a favorite of mine in this category. The heroes from Suikoden IV and Suikoden V are a bizarre subset of this trope: At the beginning of the game, you choose between two “voices” for the character, but the voices amount to no more than visceral throaty grunts played exclusively in combat. Konami actually saw fit to employ two people to groan and whine for a bit, but asked neither of them to actually read any dialogue for the character. Sometimes that company confuses me.

Sirslud provided a few placeholder noises for a game project and found the experience unsettling:

As a favor to our sound engineer on one project, I volunteered to supply the temporary placeholder grunts (it was a climbing/navigation-heavy game) for a project I was on. Never again—two months later, they were still being used during an internal demo to our 100-person-strong team. You know that feeling of hearing your recorded voice and thinking it sounds funny? This was a million times worse. I wanted to crawl under the seats in the room about 15 seconds into the 10-minute demo. Since that experience, I’ve had a much stronger appreciation for how difficult it is to get those non-verbal sounds right.

I guess it didn’t completely scare me off—a few years later, I got roped back into the booth for a voice in the gibberish-heavy game Naughty Bear. The difference being, it actually shipped, and thank god it wasn’t grunts I had to supply.

Chum Joely had a fun experience writing background dialogue for a Naruto game:

Oh God, I would never put my voice in a game, although there are recruiting moments like that from time to time around here. (“Hey, everyone! Who wants to be in a crowd scene in AAA Blockbuster 3.5?”)

My biggest content-ful contribution to a game was a bunch of random “barks” that I wrote for Naruto: Rise Of A Ninja when the project was between two scriptwriters. It’s surprisingly difficult to come up with 20 different ways to say, “Get out of here, Naruto, we hate you!” (at the beginning before he earns respect from the villagers). But it was pretty neat to start up the game and have my dialogue be the very first thing I heard when the actual gameplay started.

Oh, and also, I was commissioned at one point to proofread a large chunk of the barks that later became the subject of a moderately well-known article about Splinter Cell: Conviction, A.K.A. “Fisherfest.” They were originally written by a non-native English speaker, and let me assure you, the outcome could have been a lot worse.

Toaledo City Limits

Drew Toal burned the virtual metropolis Gameologeocity to the ground, and all for the sake of reviewing the newest SimCity. Needless to say, Toal enjoyed the game despite a few quirks with his urban planning. Stakkalee seems to have the cruel secret to Sim-ccess all figured out:

My go-to strategy for SimCity is low taxes for nine months, then excessively high taxes for three months. At the start of the new year, I lower them back down to the regular level as a Three Kings’ Day gift to my subjects. I find the three months of economic terror is long enough to fill my coffers but just short enough that it doesn’t have a major long-term effect on population. That and parks—I put parks everywhere. Police station? Park next to it. Garbage dump? Surround it with parks. Random square that won’t grow? Rezone that sucker and make it a park.

Pining for the mega-metropolises of yore, CNightwing was a little disappointed by the modest size of cities in the new game:

It really is a beautiful engine by the looks of things. I have watched several videos of just the beta weekend, and I was on the verge of pre-ordering it. Fortunately for me I delayed. It was released in the U.S. and exhibited its various problems, so now I’m in wait-and-see mode.

Of all the complaints, I think the city size is the most valid. This is first and foremost a simulation—the level of statistical and graphical power available really emphasizes this, and yet you are bizarrely hedged in by mysterious empty space between cities that the federal government presumably deems an area of natural beauty or something. I could understand there being a growing border, that you might need to spend funds or reach some goal to gain access to more land, but as it is, it’s just a big old square that discourages you from coast, rivers and unbuildable terrain within your city limits—things that have always been a challenge, and pretty to boot.

A Few Plugs Before We Go

We’re doing another video Q&A with rakish Gameological contributor Drew Toal as a companion for his upcoming Gears Of War: Judgment review. If you’ve got any questions about the game, leave them in the comments.

Alternately, if you any questions about anything else, we’re still accepting submissions for my own general Q&A feature Ask An Intern. I have lots of answers to many of life’s problems, so ask away.

Well, that’s it folks! As always, thanks for reading and commenting, and we’ll see you next week.

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113 Responses to “Behind The Grunts”

  1. Morgan Filbert says:

    Again scorned by that infuriating, fickle feline!

  2. Effigy_Power says:

    Jilted… jilted by a comment cat that chose more comments than ever before.
    How to go on…?
    Ah well, I am always only one feminist rant away from another one.

    • Morgan Filbert says:

      I would like this Effigy, but I’m not allowed to anymore.

    • George_Liquor says:

      Woo hoo! Two weeks in a row! My face is flush with excitement or possibly I’m allergic to cats! Either way, wheee!

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I too seem to have fallen irrevocably out of Soupy’s favor. Without even a feminist angle to leverage.
      I’ll simply have to scrape together some crumbs of solace from the still-unmatched social, economic and cultural supremacy -as well as video game protagonist affinity allotted me by my white, heterosexual male status.
      Which, by my estimation, will be mine to enjoy maybe as long as the rest of this decade.

      • Chum Joely says:

        That’s just Soupy’s subtle way of nudging you out of the nest, encouraging you to take wing and soar with that independent blog you were talking about somewhere else on here (gee I hope that was you). Your expansive vision requires a bigger forum, that’s all.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          For the sake of my self-esteem, I’m going to assume you’re not being sarcastic.

          • Chum Joely says:

            I absolutely do like your posts and your blog idea (gee I hope that was you). The part about Soupy’s motivations was unfounded speculation.

          • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

            Naw, I think you’re probably right. Soupy is the original Tiger Mom.

    • ToddG says:


      More comments than ever before, indeed!

  3. Chum Joely says:

    So will @stakkalee still be able to produce his weekly summaries, given the switch from “like” to “upvote” and I know not what other structural tomfoolery? How will I know who was the most interesting this week???

    • Histamiini says:

      I’m going to start a weekly list of most downvoted comments where I make merciless fun of the downvoted commentators.

      I will also mercilessly downvote comments that receive undeserved upvotes.

      • Merve says:

        I will upvote every single comment. Every single one.

        • Histamiini says:

          But will you do it mercilessly? Only the merciless will endure.

          If you are prepared to be merciless, downvote Merve’s comment.

          • Chum Joely says:

            I think I’ll focus on downvoting your comments, and yours alone. Prepare to be stalked, motherfucker. And you best believe it’s gonna be merciless.

            Please note, this policy is not guaranteed to last beyond this thread.

      • Chum Joely says:

        Oh shit, dude– the switch back to Disqus Classic erased all my upvotes and downvotes! The empire of ambiguous karma votes I was building has been crushed into dust!

  4. Chum Joely says:

    Also I think it’s weird that Soupy never edits down the quoted comments. When I get selected, it always seems to be for a comment that randomly careens from one topic to the next to the next, and it looks strange to see the whole thing quoted back. Although then again, that seems to be a winning formula for me…

    • caspiancomic says:

      Actually, I think a bit of editing does happen before these go up. I’ve had particularly parenthetical elements of my featured posts edited away, to the benefit of everyone. They’ve also seen fit to Americanize most of my spelling.

      Also, what in God’s name is your line of work, and how does one get into it? I want to write weird little scraps of dialogue!

      • Chum Joely says:

        I work in localization at Ubisoft Montreal, and I totally stumbled into it by accident. (Short version: the small “enterprise search” developer where I worked as a linguistic analyst went out of business when my kid was 6 months old and my wife was in grad school, and I needed a good-paying job fast, preferably involving both computers and foreign languages.)

        When I started here, there weren’t so many full-time scriptwriters, so any native speaker of English with some basic writing ability would frequently get roped into this kind of thing. I had fun with that stuff while it lasted.

        • caspiancomic says:

          I know it’s probably just a job, but that sounds so shockingly cool to me. I wonder if Ubisoft Toronto is hiring…

          • Chum Joely says:

            They aren’t hiring in localization yet, I can tell you. That’s why I am assigned to localization for the project they’re developing there. We tried really hard to get them to hire someone local, but the pool of available people just isn’t up to snuff, apparently. So now my project manager and I are the only two Montrealers on that project. We’re currently at two lone desks in the center of a large, empty space in a relatively abandoned corner of the coverted 1910-ish furniture factory that houses Ubi Montreal. Kinda weird showing up to work in that environment every morning.

            If you have some kind of relevant resume, we can find a way to have you hand it off to me and I’ll feed it into the HR machine. Could turn into something, but probably not before a few months from now at the very least.

          • caspiancomic says:

            Oh man, I might actually take you up on that. I’ve got more of a visual arts resume than a localization/wiring one, but I might give it a bit of a tweak and see what happens. Do you have an email address I can reach you at? If you don’t want to post it here in the comments section, I can be reached at patlee dot 416 at gmail dot com. I don’t really know why I typed it out like that, but I’ve seen people smarter than me type emails like that in the past. I think it’s to get around spambots or something? Anyway, there it is.

        • Chum Joely says:

          @caspiancomic:disqus Yeah, it’s a spambot thing. OK, prepare to be contacted in the next 30 minutes or so  by a Ubisoft employee not named Chum Joely (after I settle this little kid tantrum happening down the hall here at home).

      • Girard says:

        Indeed – I had some grammar corrected in a Soupy-selected comment once that accidentally reversed the opinion I was stating (of course as soon as I mentioned it in the comments, John was on top of it – I just mention it as it was a moment when the cleaning-up of comments was made especially salient to me).

    • Enkidum says:

      I’ve had most of my comments that made it here edited slightly, I think.

  5. Pandas_please says:

    So Disqus has finally moved its normal structure over here too…
    I think the general consensus is that the old system was preferred, and I agree, but I’ve got faith the community culture of Gameological can survive the introduction of the dreaded downvote.

    • George_Liquor says:

      Oddly enough, the old commenting system shows up when you view this page on an iPhone.

    • Histamiini says:

      Naive optimism. We’re just vehicles for likes, upvotes, and downvotes. Disqus will slowly colonise all of us – just wait for the next software update, and the one after that one, and so on, until the parasite has taken over the hosts entirely.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      I’m more concerned about the community surviving the introduction of the default “Best” order

    • Staggering Stew Bum says:

      I sent the following to Disqus as feedback, which I’m expecting them to ignore of course:

      Yesterday the website switched over to a newer version of Disqus, presumably not by choice. The newer version replaces ‘Likes’ with Upvote/Downvote, reducing every comment into a Roman coliseum style plea for approval. In my opinion this is a massive dent to the community of this site, and has made me consider not to post there anymore, despite being a member of the community since its inception. I would have thought that Disqus would aim to engage users with the websites that they are servicing, not alienating them. If you look at the link I have added in the relevant links in this form, you will see that the top ‘upvoted’ (ugh) comment describes the flaws and negatives of the updated system. The majority of the regular users appear to feel the same way.

      Please consider giving a system which:

      1. restores the viewable Likes instead of upvote/downvote;

      2. allows for a choice to disable real time updating;

      3. has ‘oldest’ as default setting for discussion ordering; and

      4. allows user to determine default number of comments shown before needing to hit ‘load more comments’, or just make it 200.

      As an aside, I do most browsing of this site with my iPhone. New Disqus crashes the page, a problem I didn’t have with the previous version. This is another problem that will end up driving me away from participating at Gameological through no fault of the site’s creators.

      I appreciate the service that Disqus provides on what is essentially for me the user a free service. However, when something relatively user friendly is replaced with a poorer version with users having no choice in the matter, expect people to be upset. I think if you can just allow some minor modifications, you would be able to have your new system but also keep users happy.

      Hope you guys consider this. Thanks.

      If you folks don’t hear from me again, it’s because the Disqus Police came for me during the night.

      • caspiancomic says:

        I hope you’re bluffing about leaving the site. Having you around makes me feel really happy and well adjusted. You know, by comparison.

        • Staggering Stew Bum says:

          You know caspian, I’d really like to say that I’m bluffing, but the way I feel right now, I just don’t want to even try and battle this comment system for one second longer. I have had a feeling since seeing the new Disqus yesterday which bothers me deeply in a way that I can’t really articulate, despite the fact that I know it is rooted in irrationality. My fight or flight reflex has kicked in and it’s telling me to get out of here. I have learned to trust my gut feeling in recent years and it’s usually more hit than miss. That said, it’s been less than a day, this might be a temporary change or they might tweak Disqus to the point where it’s manageable. All maybes. Gameological is an awesome site with a great community so in all likelihood it will transcend this shitty commenting system. If not, well I’m on Steam and can be hit up on my PSN.

          As for your other point, I know (or hope) you’re joking. Captain Internet replied to one of my comments about a month ago about my relentless negativity, and since then I have made a conscious decision to be more positive and upbeat (up until the latest WAYPTW thread when the bile floodgates were released by New Disqus), but I guess no one noticed.

          • Pandas_please says:

            You’re a great member to have around, if you left I promise you your presence would really be missed, and you definitely seem more upbeat but I’m kind of a pessimistic type myself so my point of reference is a bit off the norm.

          • Fluka says:

            Yes, agreeing with @Pandas_please:disqus , don’t go! The site wouldn’t be the same without your witty half grumpy / half cheery posts, Mr. Bum!

          • Merve says:

            Don’t leave GS, man. Otherwise, you’re just a random stranger who comments on my Steam screenshots. :)

          • PaganPoet says:

            Joining the chorus of users imploring you not to go. Your posts are some of the most funny and thoughtful.

          • stakkalee says:

            I have to give a gruff, Scruffy-esque “Second” to everyone else here hoping you stick around. I think the GS community is strong enough to survive New Disqus, but it sure is better for your involvement. And I’ve always felt your posts were just the right amount of dour misanthropy, leavened with plenty of good humor. You’re like a human Grumpy Cat!

          • Effigy_Power says:

            I don’t! Leave. Who needs you! -hides face, cries bitterly-

          • Girard says:

            It’s always sad when a great commenter leaves a great commenting community.

            Which reminds me, I haven’t seen @blue vodka lemonade in a dog’s age!

          • Jackbert says:

            So I tried posting a response to this on my iPod Touch. Thanks to the new Disqus, it took me twenty minutes to type two hundred words. This is because of two things: first, my letters appeared far after I actually typed them, making typos ubiquitous, and second, the screen was flashing blank every three seconds, also causing typos. I was wrapping up my comment when Disqus crashed. All gone.

            I tried a bit more on the WAYPTW thread, and the site crashed every time. I hate to sound dramatic, but I honestly cannot post on Gameological on my iPod. Considering only about 10% of my comments on Gameological are posted from the computer I am currently using, this is going to cut my commenting dramatically.

            Let us ignore the problems caused by using iOS devices. This overhaul is horrendous on all platforms. I’ve always found viewing those who like your comments to be a big part of the community. I genuinely enjoy making a Persona joke that Caspian and Poet like, or a Mass Effect joke that Merve and Fluka like. The real-time updating just makes me really mad. It does not work on my iPod. It is terrible to use on a computer. Like you said, there absolutely needs to be the option to eliminate it. I would not be surprised if it is a major cause of the crashing on iOS devices, and it just annoys the hell out of me on computers. While I only find your third and fourth points minor inconveniences in comparison to your first and second points, I definitely find them bothersome as well.

            In conclusion, I agree with you that (1) the new Disqus sucks and (2) it is going to severely impair my ability to participate in the Gameological community. Could you please let me know how you sent your feedback to Disqus?

          • Effigy_Power says:

            Just to be contrarian and generally unhelpful, I should add that it works really well on my Android tablet, which I never ever use for commenting.

          • caspiancomic says:

            Aw man, I thought I had my phasers on “gentle ribbing” but on closer inspection they appear to have been set to “dentist’s drill into exposed nerve.” I hope I can help balm the wound by joining the chorus of people imploring you to stay. I was giving you a hard time up there, but I really do want you to stick around. You’re one of the commenters whose insight and humour I particularly look forward to, and with a community like this that pretty much makes you first among equals. Layouts come and layouts go, but we’re still the same ragtag group of lovable misfits we’ve always been. Without you our chains of laboured puns would be woefully incomplete! Stick around, man!

  6. beema says:

    I’m getting annoyed that several times now, a picked comment has been a response to one of my comments!

    • George_Liquor says:

      Think of it this way: You’re a muse.

    • Fluka says:

      *Sigh!* Always a bridesmaid, never a bride!

    • Chum Joely says:

      It’s true, there should be some kind of points given for assists. Stakkalee, let’s get you on that. (I love delegating tasks to people who don’t want them)

      • stakkalee says:

        I’m working on it, I’m working on it, geez! There’s over 400 comments to go review from a year’s worth of posts. I figure since comment depth seems to max out at 5 each comment has the possibility for 4 assists.

        • beema says:

          God damn it! What are we not paying you for?

        • Chum Joely says:

          Oh, fuck, really? Wait, you should probably think through that assist policy first. Here’s how it works in hockey (apparently). If you’re really trying to do something about this, I’m sure it would be more than adequate if you stuck to “primary assists”, i.e. the immediately preceding commenter who effectively “passed the mic” to the selected comment.

          God this is nerdy.

          • stakkalee says:

            Don’t worry, I’m not working very hard on it. Thanks for the link – I’ve often wondered how hockey assists work (though not to the point of actually looking it up.) Since hockey has up to 2 assists, we’ll do up to 2 assist per comment, too: The top-level commenter and the immediate predecessor commenter. So now we have golf themes AND hockey themes in the GS scorekeeping, plus baseball-esque stats for commenters (words-per-comment, average word length, a few others.) Are there any other sports scorekeeping conceits we can bolt on?

          • Chum Joely says:

            There must be something you can bring in from soccer. Red and yellow cards? Penalty kicks?

  7. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Return of the Son of the Revenge of the Impromptu Friday Question!

    It seems impossible anymore that anyone could pick up a game knowing nothing about it before hand.
    In about 2000, I picked up Symphony of the Night already in it’s Greatest Hits packaging. I’d never read a single review or preview and wasn’t particularly jazzed, but felt like buying a game and generally enjoyed the series.

    Suffice it to say, my mind was pretty blown.

    What game do you remember ever purchasing or receiving that you knew nothing about and fell in love with?

    • caspiancomic says:

      For me it would have to be Radiant Historia for the DS. I was in a big box electronics store whiling away a bit of time while my dad shopped for TVs or something, and the boxart was staring daggers at me. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, since on examination it looked like any other anime influenced RPG, but after leaving the store I couldn’t stop thinking about the impression it left on me. I didn’t even read the back of the box, or anything, something about the cover art alone set off my carefully calibrated “you will like this game” alarms. I went back for it the next day and dropped forty bucks on it sight unseen. Turns out my intuition was right: the game was fantastic, one of the best and most refreshing RPGs I had played in years.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

        Nice. Radiant Historia definitely earns it’s reputation. I didn’t play much before my file was wiped out (my fault, can’t be angry) but it is an incredibly well-crafted game.

    • Flying_Turtle says:

      Darklands for the PC. I had a roommate in college who played a lot of RPGs, and I’d never gotten all that deep into the genre, but he thought I’d like it, and he was right. Even the choices involved in creating my party at the very beginning of the game were pretty engaging, being able to select your character’s socioeconomic background and previous jobs and trading off previous experience and age and all of that. Despite it still being one of my favorite games, it never really turned me on to RPGs in general; they’re still pretty hit or miss for me.

      • doyourealize says:

        Two things:

        1. I had never heard of this before, and your description sounded like something I could get into, so I checked it out on GOG and almost bought it. Then I said to myself, “What the fuck is wrong with you? You have probably 100 games on Steam you’ve never played, and this will probably be one of those!” It’s in my wishlist, though.

        2. Darklands 4.0 is not a new version of Darklands the game, but rather a German fashion site with a kind of apocalyptic theme.

    • Girard says:

      I bought the LucasArts Archives pack more or less on a whim in middle school. I has seen an in-store demo of DotT before, and a friend had once played the “King of the Creatures” song from the Sam & Max CD for me, but I was mostly going in blind with a vague inkling of the types of games I was getting into. As it turned out, I wound up playing some of my favorite computer games of all time over the next few months – games that indelibly shaped my sense of humor and aesthetic and ludic preferences in games, and which directed my game-playing in coming years as I sussed out every LucasArts classic I could get my hands on.

    • BillyNerdass says:

      The biggest one for me was buying Homeworld, which is (maybe, I have no proof) the first space RTS that allowed you to move your ships on all x/y/z axes. I liked the box art mainly because the design of your mothership was unlike anything I’d ever really seen before. I think it might have been my first PC game ever (I grew up on consoles and am still biased).

      I remember unpacking and it had this huge manual with like 60 pages of history about the “Homeworld.” And that just blew my mind. I always loved when manuals had a ton of stuff in them but this was just above and beyond anything I ever imagined. It was a mini textbook and included some stuff that seemed really dark/strange (and therefore awesome) to me at the time.

      Before even installing it, I felt super invested in the game because of that. I don’t think I ever beat the single player campaign but I remember being wowed by the story, mostly because of the extra weight it carried due to the manual. That single player was tough though since it had a persistent fleet mechanic where if you fucked up bad, you could find yourself severely undermanned in subsequent missions, and also because I was twelve.

      I got really into the multiplayer, though, and it became the first online community I ever really participated in. To the point where I joined and founded clans. After awhile I got really good at multiplayer and I still think Homeworld is one of the few games I’ve ever been especially good at.

      And now I will go look for that manual.

    • Merve says:

      For me, that would be Hydrophobia: Prophecy. One day, it was on Steam for $1.24, and I figured that for half the price of a hot chocolate, I couldn’t go wrong by purchasing it. I didn’t know it at the time, but the game had received harshly negative reviews, was saddled with a terrible, clichéd plot, and featured some hilariously awful voice acting. But I ended up loving it anyway. It’s basically a mini-Uncharted set in a sinking ocean liner with a lot of nifty water-based puzzles and some breathtaking aquatic effects. It’s exactly the kind of action-adventure game that’s right up my alley.

      • beema says:

        Man, I thought that game was fucking terrible. It was trying to be Uncharted but everything it did just felt like a really poorly implemented knockoff. Everything felt cheap and awkward. Story was shit. Graphics were shit, controls were shit. Voice acting was shit. I can’t think of a single good thing about it.

        If you like that, you should pick up I Am Alive. Same type of trying to ape a bigger game cheap-feeling garbage.

        • Merve says:

          I’m well aware that I’m one of the approximately 3.7 people who actually liked the game. That being said, the version that was panned was the original XBox version, not the reworked one that was released for PC.

        • beema says:

          @Merve2:disqus I played it on PC. I’m not sure how it differs, but it was still awful

    • Citric says:

      Shadow of Destiny on PSP, in a bin, for $10. I bought it as a “whatever, it’s $10” lark, and it’s actually a pretty nifty little adventure game where you’re constantly being killed in amusing ways.

      • Destroy Him My Robots says:

        This is probably my #1 Adventure That More People Should Play. Have you by any chance played Kawano’s DS adventures? Should I seek them out? And does anyone know what she’s doing at the moment?

    • doyourealize says:

      Predictably, Demon’s Souls. Despite having called a bunch of GameStops on release day, finally finding a copy (that they wouldn’t reserve) over a half-hour away, driving there and hoping they didn’t sell it, I knew next to nothing about the game. My brother had mentioned it once and said it was going to be brutal, and I knew (being unemployed except for subbing in high school sometimes) I needed a game that would draw me in. I was anticipating some kind of Diablo-like game. I was wrong, but goddamn did that game draw me in.

      • Pandas_please says:

        For me it was Dark Souls. I had played a little Demon’s Souls so it wasn’t all new for me, and the lack of a hub world actually really turned me off at first. I started really playing it about seven months after my first attempt and once it hooked me it blew me away.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      Crusader Kings 2. Hobbes was talking about it so much that I became interested, realized that the setting is right down my alley and voila. Here I am with two (2, count it, deuce! Two) dynasties that made it all the way and an almost complete game with my Venetian trade posts dotting every ocean.

    • EmperorNortonI says:

      This is kind of hard for me. It doesn’t happen any more, at all, because I read the game sites and presses pretty regularly, and am aware of just about everything on PC. If I was in a position to buy console games, it would be different, but being in Japan, I’m not going to go into a store and buy something based on the box art or gut feelings because I’m never going to be able to read it well enough to play. And, because I’d feel rather guilty about appreciating the box art of most games in this country. Ahem.

      Perhaps the most memorable experience of being dropped blind into a game doesn’t really count. I had played the original StarControl with friends at university, and had a blast with the Melee mode. I had no idea there was a sequel in the works, or what it would be, until it showed up on a collection of Warez disks that a friend had made for me. He was a major pirate, and I was a bad person in my early teens. Anyway, I installed the game, and was completely and totally surprised. “The Ur-Quan Masters? What do you mean the Ur-Quan won the war? Their ships weren’t as good!” “What’s with these cutscenes and story and stuff? Huh?” “Oh, it’s a free-roaming space RPG with combat segments based off the original melee. Oh, that’s really freaking awesome!” “Oh, too bad my warez copy is slightly broken and I can’t use the starmap, I guess i’ll just navigate blind across the entire map.” So, I obsessively play and beat the game, but it was a really good thing that I was an ace at the Melee mode in the original, as those battles were do or die and there was no chance to practice. I never got the hand of any of the new ships, and was reluctant to even use them, as I’d be thrown into the battle and have to figure everything else. After I beat the game, though, I noticed a file in the directory called SuperMelee. I hadn’t noticed it before, and gave it a spin, and felt incredibly stupid – here was the practice mode I’d been looking for, and my first true multiplayer obsession was born.

    • beema says:

      I’m honestly not sure that has happened in at least the past decade. I got Final Fantasy IV (2 SNES) as a gift when I was a kid from my grandpa, and I ended up loving that. I had never even heard of Final Fantasy prior to that. Does that count?

  8. stakkalee says:

    Well, here we are at the end of another week. Our most-commented article, as usual, was the WAYPTW thread with 303 comments. And now, despite the fact that New Disqus hates joy and wants to murder it, I’ve managed to compile the Top 5 Most-Liked (non-KG) comments:
    1) With 50 likes, @LoveWaffle:disqus is a downer.
    2) @Jackbert:disqus gets 37 likes for telling a story.
    3) @NakedManHoldingAFudgesicle:disqus gets 35 likes for a great idea.
    4) With 32 likes, @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus has mad skillz.
    5) @Indoorsman:disqus gets 30 likes for this criticism.
    Some excellent comments this week, as usual. And now for the awarding of the jackets! We have 2 new members getting the plaid today – everyone give a big GS welcome to @CNightwing:disqus and @BradWestness:disqus! Welcome aboard fellows!
    And now for our returning members. @TheBryanJZX90:disqus, Saint Stryfe (of Twitter) and @sirslud:disqus are all getting a stud for their second mention, @ToddG:disqus and @doyourealize:disqus are getting their second studs, and @ChumJoely:disqus is getting his third! Also, @George_Liquor:disqus and I are both getting our seventh studs (me with the double, w00t!) and @caspiancomic:disqus unlocks the “You’re Legal In Canada!” achievement with his nineteenth stud! Hooray for us!
    And for the linkdump, we have a webcomic that mashes up video games with Edward Gorey, giving us The Video Game Tinies! Inspired stuff! So until next week, enjoy your gaming, and remember to keep it scintillating!

    • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

      I got 35 likes votes for an obvious joke that mistakenly mixed Roman and Ancient Greek myths and no one called me out on it? I expected more from you guys.

      • Merve says:

        I will create 35 different Disqus accounts to downvote your comment for mythological inaccuracy.

        • Naked Man Holding A Fudgesicle says:

          Aaah, that’s what I’m talking about.

          I just discovered that you can’t simultaneously like and unlike the same comment. This must be a safeguard from Disqus to prevent opening the gates of Oblivion and causing the universe implode.

          • Effigy_Power says:

            And yet you can like comments in Disqus in the Nickelback forum. What a world?
            (I have nothing to back that up, but it would be horrid.)

      • PaganPoet says:

        Honestly, it was the “Hugs Before Thugs” joke that sealed the like from me.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Thanks for the Game Over Tinies, stakkalee, that was a delight! I loved the Gashlycrumb Tinies when I was a kid, which is kind of disturbing if you think about it too hard.

      I also love it when Kate Beaton turns a Gorey illustration into a comic.

    • CNightwing says:

      Woo! How exciting! I especially like that my complaint is now fully justified by hackers making it possible to build outside of the little box.

    • Chum Joely says:

      BTW is it just me, or do links to comments not work properly? I seem to get bounced to the correct article, but just the top of the comments section. So then I’m just searching by the commenter’s name (often via vgrep, for the 1% of commenters who may be both ancient and UNIX-y enough to get that joke).

      Add this to the list of grievances against the new Disqus, I suppose. Even if it’s caused by something else, because FUCK NEW DISQUS.

      • stakkalee says:

        I think it might just be you – I just double-checked the links again and they all seem to work for me. Are you reading from work again? (God I hope not – it’s Saturday morning!) Maybe your browser? IE and Chrome both worked for me.

        • Chum Joely says:

          No, I’m at home, and it’s Chrome (I’m a poet yet not aware of that fact). For a computer scientist I do seem to put off quite an aura of broken technology.

      • Merve says:

        Yup, this happens to me too, but only about 50% of the time. The rest of the time, it works fine.

  9. chat alex says:

    Here is my new stock reply for liking something, which I will now insert behind every post I like:”It is with great joy, honor and even a not inconsiderable amount of pride that I bestow upon your literary musings my personal seal of approval

    • Effigy_Power says:

      The fact that a Spambot uses someone else’s stock reply is an irony that probably goes beyond the people behind this.

  10. Chum Joely says:

    OK, what the hell is happening with Disqus now?! We’ve gone back to the old look all of a sudden?

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Let us take a moment to thank the martyred hero who traveled back from the future, destroyed the Disqus 2.0 servers, thus altering history and subsequently never being born, all so we can see who liked our comments.

      • Chum Joely says:

        In case the time-space continuum is warped again before you read this, know that the first Like, Upvote, or Positive Karma Point on the above message comes from me.

    • John Teti says:

      We were never supposed to have changed over at this point—it was a mistake that surprised me as much as anyone. I finally was able to get in touch with my publisher relations contact at Disqus, and he put us back on Disqus Classic, as we’d discussed the Gameological/AVC situation previously. Any changes down the line will (or at least SHOULD, barring another Disqus glitch) happen on Gameological and AVC at the same time. We’re trying to figure out how to implement a change properly. The abrupt change that happened on Friday is not my idea of “properly” or anyone else’s.

      Just so you all know you’re not talking into a void, everyone at The A.V. Club listens to your feedback, and we want to make sure that any changes to the comment system are done right. It is NOT an “Eh, screw it, they’ll get used to it” situation. The community on these sites is very important to us, as you all know by now, and we only want to improve the setup.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        You’re our stud-hero now.

      • Chum Joely says:

        Thanks, John. But is there really an option for you to bring this in gradually? For example, the switch from “viewable likes” (you can see who liked your comment) to “unviewable up/downvotes” is going to have to be a quantum leap– a sudden change from one system to another.

        Also, in general, are you (AV Club as a whole) just swept along by whatever changes Disqus makes to the versions that they support? Or is there a theoretical option to keep “Disqus Classic” indefinitely? (That name makes me think of Classic Coke… hmm…)

      • Jackbert says:

        Thanks, John! I’m going to continue thinking that my angry old man letter worked, in which I said, “Blargh, bleh, change is bad.” 

      • HobbesMkii says:

         Our long national nightmare is over! All Hail Teti!

  11. Mr. Glitch says:

    Hi everybody, Mr. Glitch here! I’m back from my exile to the Phantom Zone, and I have an all-new review of a crusty old ColecoVision game for your enjoyment. Check it out, sons of Jor-El, at!